Archive for category Customer Service

Selling Through Amazon Marketplace for Aggravation and Losses – Or, how to borrow stuff from idiots who sell through Amazon

Amazon encourages you to sell your stuff through them.  “Have one to sell?” They ask, with a lovely button directing you to “Sell it on Amazon”. They make it nice and easy. Then they encourage buyers to borrow your stuff and make you pay for it.

The smarter financial thing to do is not sell things on Amazon, but instead buy things from individuals on Amazon, and then screw them over. You can use Amazon to hurt people and make their lives shittier, all from the comfort of your living room, or church, as the case may be.

It’s awesome, right?

8/7/2011 A buyer ordered a new in box projector bulb from me.

8/8/2011 I shipped the item in a timely matter.

8/19/2011 The buyer messaged me through Amazon asking about a return policy, because it turned out there was something else wrong with the projector. Replacing the light bulb did not help.

I agreed to accept the return and provide a refund minus the original shipping fee and minus a 15% restocking  fee (as allowed by Amazon’s marketplace rules), as the item was sold and shipped to them new in box, and was no longer new in box. Honestly, it is no longer a salable item at all, because it is a light bulb and nobody buys a used light bulb and I can’t really guarantee what the buyer did with it. The 15% restocking fee is just a you get to have a little bit of money and give the bulb away to avoid it going straight to a landfill. Still, I was willing to accept the return. I also sent them some troubleshooting tips in case they could figure out what was wrong with the projector. I asked them to email me when they returned the bulb, and provide me with tracking information, so I could keep an eye out for it.
9/8/2011 The buyer messaged me through Amazon, a full month after I shipped a consumable good (light bulb) and acknowledged the terms of the return and said they were shipping it that day. Sure. Keep a light bulb for a month, possibly using it that whole time, and then return it. That seems totally fair and legitimate. Oh, wait, I am lying. It seems to me like it sucks. Whatever. They told me they would send me the tracking  information. They did not send me tracking information, but I kept an eye out for the shipment for the next week. It never arrived.

10/18/2011 The buyer messaged me asking if I got the light bulb and told me it should have arrived by the 13th.  I told them I had not gotten the package. I assumed they meant it was supposed to have arrived on 9/13, so I was concerned and confused. I asked for tracking information and got no reply.

12/9/2011 They messaged me again in December asking about their refund and provided me their phone number. I tried to call but didn’t  reach them. As it was a busy weekend, I did not have other chances to try to contact them.

12/13/2011 They messaged again finally providing a tracking number and said UPS delivered it on October 6th dropped at the front door. They said the item was insured and they would contact UPS if I had not gotten it. UPS said the shipment didn’t exist.

12/14/2011 I replied to let them know I had not gotten it and that the tracking number did not work. I asked them to please contact UPS.

12/15/2011 They replied with a corrected UPS number and said they would file a claim with UPS. Instead they immediately filed a claim with Amazon stating that the item was “NOT AS DESCRIBED”.

I responded to the claim with all that information.

If they had provided the tracking information in a timely fashion, I could have contacted UPS to ask what was happening with a package that was marked as delivered, but which I didn’t have. This happens sometimes, and they call the driver and ask where it exactly the package is. Sometimes it is just hidden from view, other times it was dropped off at the wrong house by mistake and it is realized as soon as the layout of the front step is described. I have no idea what the driver could possibly be expected to remember 2 months later. Still, they could have filed with UPS and been told, hell no, you need to file sooner, and then contacted me, to see what we could work out. Instead, they lied and said they would contact UPS, and then they immediate falsely accused me of selling and shipping items that were not as described.

12/21/2011 Without ever once contacting me for any further information, or to warn me that I’d better refund the amount minus shipping and minus the restocking fee that the the two of us had agreed to, back when it was being returned in a reasonable time and with proper tracking, Amazon just took all the money back from me, and gave it back to them. All of it. Including what I had to pay to ship it to them to start with.

It cost me money to let them have a light bulb for 2 months, and then never get it back.

Amazon has quite the nice setup for buyers.

I’m not a business that can absorb costs like this. I’m just a person, and Amazon customer myself, who got suckered into the idea that Amazon would be a better way to sell things I no longer need than using ebay, craigslist, or just having a garage sale. I’d have been better off just throwing the item away than using Amazon.

To top it off, every message sent by this buyer (a church) had the signature “HE IS , HE WAS, And IS TO COME”. I got scammed AND proselytized to. Thanks Amazon.

Shop Amazon Marketplace and screw over the sellers. They should have been advertising that heavier for the holidays. Still, plenty of people can take advantage of it in 2012. I’m working on a jingle for the commercials.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose
(like a light bulb that you use for two months then demand your money back)
And if you ever saw it
(but you can’t track it )
You would even say it glowed
(like a light bulb that you use for two months then demand your money back)
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
(like “You fucking moron who sold through Amazon”)
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games
(like screwing people over because you’re a church, so you must be right and good)


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The Experiment

I bought a Sidekick II in early 2005. It was my first smart phone, and it changed my life. I’d had other phones with web access in the past, but it just wasn’t good enough to be anything more than a curiosity. The Sidekick II was very usable. I could get out and about while managing my business and helping my clients. I was no longer so tied to the computer.

I’m on my 4th Sidekick now, the Sidekick LX 2009. The first one I bought at a discounted rate and signed a contract with T-Mobile, but all the subsequent ones I bought outright, so I’ve long since been out of contract.

T-Mobile/Danger/Microsoft decided to shut down the Danger servers on May 31st 2011. Without the servers, my phone is a dumb phone, with an excellent keyboard.

T-Mobile handled the transition in a piss poor fashion. I had to spend hours on the phone with them, I could detail it all out, but who really cares. It was hideous and offensive. No two people would tell me the same thing. At first I was told that even though I was off contract, I’d be given a discount on a new phone because of the inconvenience of my phone no longer having the features I bought it for. By the end I was told that no way would I get any discount at all, unless I would sign a contract, at which point I’d get exactly the same discount as anyone else buying a phone and signing a contract. Zero compensation for the inconvenience.

I originally planned to leave T-Mobile and go to Virgin, where I could get a plan that suited me well (unlimted data and very limited talk (I hate to talk on the phone) for $25 per month. I’d have to buy a new phone outright, but I wouldn’t be under contract, and it was cheaper than what a new phone with similar features would cost me to stay on T-Mobile. Plus it was cheaper per month than T-Mobile. It, admittedly, has for less minutes, but I basically see the less minutes as a bonus.

I cut back the T-Mobile plan, because we didn’t need two phones with data plans anymore. At that point I realized it only cost us $5 a month to just have a phone that shared the minutes.  $5 is less than $25.  Of course it is cheaper, it has no data, but…

What if I just went without?

I’ve been living with a smart phone for several years now, and I’m addicted to the damn thing.

I think it is a useful device, but it is possible I am deluding myself over how useful it is. It might simply be a luxury item, or it could very well be a monkey on my back, ruining my ability to think properly, since I store half my brain functions in the cloud, and keeping me from really living in the moment, because I am too damn busy posting about the moment online from my phone.

So, I didn’t replace my smart phone. I just have a dumb phone. I’m seeing what that means for my life.

For one thing, I find I don’t reach for the damn phone immediately upon waking.

Actually, I sometimes leave it in the car or another room for the whole day, and don’t pay any attention to it.

It’s inconvenient to not have the internet on my phone, but my world hasn’t fallen apart, yet.

We’ll see.

Anyhow, that’s why I am a little less responsive than you might be used to.

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Energy Suck

When we bought our house, it came with a crappy old refrigerator that the old owners didn’t want to bother taking away. It made things cold, which is really all a refrigerator needs, but the door pieces were broken, so things could not really be kept in the door, drawers were cracked, etc. It was difficult to organize things inside, because some parts didn’t hold things well.

We put it out in the garage and got a new refrigerator for inside, and it worked well as a second refrigerator. However, I often feel some stress over the poor energy efficiency of the old unit, so I finally decided to make use of the SCE rebate program to get rid of old refrigerators or freezers.

I filled out the form online, and picked June 3rd as the pick-up date. It was the first available date. When selecting the date, it says “We will call you prior to the date you choose below to confirm your appointment and you will be given a four hour time slot. We will call you within a half hour of our arrival on the day of your pickup.” Then they called and reiterate this information (yes, somebody called to tell me that somebody would call). Then they sent snail mail, to let me know that they would call me the day before pick-up to give me a window, and would call me just prior to pick-up, and that if I did not answer, they would reschedule me.

June 2nd rolled around and I got no call or message letting me know what my 4 hour window would be. I called and left them voice mail asking if the pick-up was still happening on the third, and if so, what the 4 hour window would be.

On June 3rd, the doorbell rang at 7 AM and woke me up. They wanted my refrigerator.

At 9:30 AM they called to reply to my voice mail, wanting to provide me with a 4 hour time window for pick-up.


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Trash Talk

One of the major WTF?s when I moved to Minnesota was the fact I needed to choose a garbage collection company. Everyplace I’ve ever lived before, there was just one company (or the city directly) that serviced any particular area. Some places we got a bill, other places it was included in our taxes, but there was no choice involved.

Here, you choose a company. There are several different companies that service our neighborhood, and on trash day there are a stream of trucks from various companies that wander our streets. Sometimes people from other companies knock on the door and make special offers for switching companies. It is annoying and I don’t think it is very efficient, but hey, competition does keep prices down, and if you are willing to switch often, you can probably get really good deals because of the X amount free offers.

We use Suburban Waste Services. This week, Monday was President’s Day. When there is a holiday before your trash pick-up day, everything shifts by one day. So, we (and many neighbors) put out our trash one day later than usual. Our trash did not get picked up. At that point I went to look at their website (yes, I should have done it BEFORE) and discovered that President’s Day was not one of their holidays this year. I had missed trash day. From what happened with neighbors, it seems like some companies servicing our area shifted, and some didn’t.

This was totally my fault. They send out a schedule at the start of the year. I had multiple ways to verify when our trash day was, and I failed. It super sucked though, because we had A LOT of trash. Like, 5 person household, instead of our normal three, all the puppy related trash. Our trash can was overflowing, and overflowing with things that did not smell excellent.

We sent Suburban Waste Services an email explaining that we had messed up and put trash out on the wrong day, was it possible to arrange for a pick up still?

“We can get you picked up today, just leave it out and I will send a truck over.  No problem, have a great weekend!”

Awesome. That is why I don’t switch to get free X when people knock on the door with offers. Suburban Waste Services has always responded quickly to our email queries, and they’ve always been helpful about any requests we’ve had.

They showed up so quickly to handle the missed trash pick-up, that I didn’t even have time to take out yet another bag of puppy gross. That will have to wait for our normal pick-up day next week, which we’ll be sure to get right.

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la fleur de Not Sonic

On Friday, I was at Lakewinds. I stumbled exhausted around the store and gathered a few items so that I could cook something for dinner.

I’ve been having a lot of headaches lately. Some migraines, some sinus pressure headaches. I went through a stretch many years ago, where I had a headache which lasted well over a year. This is not THAT bad, at all, but still, it hasn’t been fun.

Anyhow, on Friday, I’d been having a particularly crappy day. I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep since the puppies came, and the weather has been up and down, which would be fine, if it didn’t bother my sinuses so much. That day in particular, I’d been battling a migraine, and I wasn’t really in the mood to cook, but I certainly wasn’t in the mood to go out, particularly on a Friday night. So, while I wanted to crawl into bed and be left alone, what I needed to do was shop for things I could use to prepare a nutritious and reasonably tasty dinner.

I got into line with my selections, and the person who was doing the bagging asked how I was.

Now, I actually HATE that question. It is pretty much my least favorite question. I know, I know, how terribly unfriendly of me. I grasp that it is standard in this society. Two people interact, and one person makes a “HOWAREYOU?” noise with their mouth, and the other person is supposed to make a “FINE” noise with their mouth. It’s like two dogs meeting and sniffing butts. It’s just saying, “Yes, I am a human and not an alien (or Replicant) and I know how to do the human things.” The problem is, I am an alien. I hear the “HOWAREYOU?” noise, and I think about what the words actually mean. I can’t not think about it.  I hear it, and I find myself considering, Self? How are you? Whatever it is that I am trying to get done is interrupted for a bit of self reflection and overview of my day to determine the answer to the question, which is being asked 99% of the time by a random person who doesn’t care how I am in the slightest. Then, I must throw away what I’ve thought of, and force myself to make the “FINE” noise, even though it is a lie. I hate being pushed into lying. So, yeah, I am not a fan of this societal nicety in any way, shape, nor form.

He asked, and while I resent the question, and society in general for making it a common question, I don’t resent the asker, they are just doing as they’ve been taught. However, I didn’t feel good enough to bother with lying and I replied, “Horrible,” because I felt horrible.

He blinked.

The cashier rung me up. He bagged my stuff. I paid. He gave me my bag.

Then, the cashier said, “Are you in a hurry?”

Now, this was not a phrase I was used to as part of the end of a transaction, so even though I heard the words, I did not understand.

“Excuse me?” I inquired.

“Are you in a hurry?” and when I stills stared at her beautiful face blankly, she tried again, “Do you have a minute?”


“Okay, hold on just a minute,” and she ran off.

I waited, putting pressure on my head trying to keep the comparably low grade, but still very noticeable, migraine pain from making something pop.

Soon she ran back with a bouquet of flowers and handed them to me, “You said you were having a horrible day, so I wanted you to have these.  I got them for my sister.  I was supposed to see her tonight, but I just found out my plans changed, so I’d like you to have them instead.”

That is how I came home from my trip to the grocery store with groceries, flowers, and a story to tell my family.

Now, this was an act by an individual. It isn’t a Lakewinds company policy. Yet, it is still customer service. I was a customer and an employee was interacting with me. A company chooses who to employ. Those choices reflect upon the company.

It was a surprising and spontaneous gesture, and it really put a different spin on my totally not looked forward to outing to pick up some dinner groceries.

It is in very stark contrast to a pleasant outing gone wrong due to the personal interaction of the sort of person that Sonic Drive-In chooses to employ. More on that thought another day.